Since 1985, the first full week of May has been designated as Public Service Recognition Week to honor those who serve our nation as Federal, state, county, and local government employees. Public service careers are not for those who seek glory—in fact, at its best, public service is largely invisible. We appreciate the annual opportunity to pause and applaud public servants, especially FOIA professionals.
At the Federal level, dedicated FOIA professionals embody some of the best aspects of public service. As the FOIA Ombudsman’s office, we have the opportunity to meet and interact with many FOIA professionals each year, and we find that most people who choose a career in FOIA do so not because they like records, or are fond of exemptions, but rather because they genuinely like people and enjoy working with them.
But while FOIA professionals relish to opportunity to work directly with FOIA requesters and agency colleagues, they also face mounting challenges. The number of FOIA requests received by agencies has continued to grow despite budget issues, inadequate staffing levels, and competing priorities. And earlier this fiscal year, many FOIA professionals were furloughed in the partial government shutdown.
So in this week recognizing the contribution of public servants, we encourage you to take a moment to thank the FOIA professionals who are working hard to increase transparency.